Efforts by the DA to assist farmers whose lost grazing and stock in recent fires have been thwarted by councillors and officials of the Chris Hani District Municipality who claim the correct “protocol” was not followed.
Massive losses occurred as the farmers could not stop these fires due to limited resources. Approximately 40 000 hectares of land, 400 large stock (Cows and Calves), 280 Sheep, 700 kilometers of fencing and an unaccounted number of game where lost.
The Chris Hani Disaster Management Centre (CHDMC) only responded on Friday, 12th September 2014, which was four days after the fire had started. They responded with 3 vehicles, each with only a driver and no assistants. Since the fire had started, the affected farmers received no communication from the CHDMC and were left to fight these fierce fires on their own. No government department or municipality offered any assistance or visited the area to assess the damages.
This is in stark contrast to a fire that started on Mr Gwede Mantashe’s farm outside Elliot in the same district council, in August last year. At that time the CHDMC responded within 48 hours with assistance to the area.
The Democratic Alliance tried to setup a meeting with CHDMC Fire Officer, Mr Baadjies, which proved unsuccessful. We then contacted CHDMC Manager, Mr Memani, and setup a meeting on Thursday, 25th September 2014, at 15.00.
The Democratic Alliance were informed by Mr Memani that we could not meet with him and that the ANC councillor for the Chris Hani District , Mrs Matiwane, instructed him not to meet with us as we must follow protocol by contacting her office to meet with the disaster manager.
This is unacceptable as the DA were stopped from doing effective oversight. Disasters must be treated as urgent issues as it puts people’s lives in danger.
I will ask questions of:
- The Chris Hani District Municipality,
- MEC of Local Government and the Minister of Agriculture,
- The National Minister of Agriculture Forestry and Fisheries
In order to ascertain whether a Disaster Management Plan is in place, whether adequate funding is available, if there is sufficient equipment and personnel to handle these types of disasters and to query the role played by the CHDMC in these devastating recent fires.
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